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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stress - You can Beat that!

These days everybody is exposed to stress: the child whose mother keeps nagging him about his grades, the teen kid who is outcast by his peers, the employee who keeps hearing his boss say "It's almost your deadline Joe!" or the mother who plans out food for the week on a limited budget. Stress is so common it is almost accepted as part of our life. However, it should not be the case. Stress causes a lot of illness to the human body which would have been avoided if we had taken it easy. But, hey, how can you take it easy when you gotta make a living for your whole family? Ok, so here are ways to reduce your stress:

1. Acknowledge that a stressor exists. Stress can be caused by a lot of things. any thing that makes you anxious, afraid, causes you pain is normally due to a stressor. for example, by the 10th of the month you have only 100 dollars left to spend for the rest of the month can cause stress.

2. If you can, do something about what is causing your stress. If for instance your stressor comes from a financial difficulty, you may try to decrease spending, or perhaps do an alternative like buying clothes every other month instead of every month, or perhaps buying a cheaper brand of shoes, or having a garage sale, etc.

3. Relax. There are several ways for you to relax.
a. You can do breathing exercises. Take slow deep breaths through the mouth and nose. Without straining, hold your breath for about 3 to 4 seconds and release it slowly.

b. have an aromatherapy massage in a dimly lit room and play some soft music.

c. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
with eyes closed, lie (or sit) comfortably. Tense the muscles on your forehead and relax it slowly, being conscious of the relief. Relax all your muscles gradually working on from your forehead down till you reach your toes feeling the tension move away and breathing slowly.

d. Imagery
Picture a scene on your mind like a serene lake or lying on a hammock under a tree on a cool day as you listen to the sound of the leaves and the chirping of the birds. Put yourself in the scene by hearing the sounds, feeling the coolness of the wind, etc. Keep your self in that state for about 5 minutes. You may change scenes every now and then as long as it keeps your relaxed.

e. Distract yourself from your stress.

You can do something else that will keep your mind away from the cause of your stress. You may dance or sing, or read, or listen to a favorite soft music, or look at pictures of you when you were little, etc. Drawing is a good form of relaxation.

f. sleep. put your mind in a relaxed state and get some rest.

The above are some of the things I normally do when stressed out after an exam. Hopefully, they can help you too.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Food that Keep You Young and Beautiful

I have used a formula that came from a Thai book which my mom used to teach me when I was in my teens. Then, naturally, I didn't need it because I was young, my skin glowed and my hair was perfect. Now that I've matured, I noticed that age is slowly showing so of course I panicked and looked for some remedies. It was then that I found this book. Let me share the formula with you.

2 eggyolks
1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon fresh milk
juice of 2 calamansi or half lemon

Mix them all together and use as a face and body mask. You may add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil if you want to use it for your hair or if you have dry skin. Leave on for about 30 minutes to 1 hour (I leave it on longer though).

I've found that this formula makes your skin glow and will also leave your hair shiny. Even the soles of my feet have softened because I have regularly applied it. It will be more effective if you use a body scrub of salt first before applying the mask. I usually ask my masseuse to come over for a massage and I apply the mixture after the massage while keeping the lights off, the room well ventilated (I use an airconditioning because I live in the tropics) and playing a good soothing music. My daughter and husband like it when I apply the mixture on them after I have given them a massage. It's a good family treat you know.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nursing Baby

Breastmilk is one of the most wonderful gifts of a mother to a child. The benefits baby gets from it range from immunity to nutrition to security and bonding. But not only does breastfeeding benefit the child, it does the mother good too. It is a natural contraceptive if the child feeds on breastmilk alone. It brings back the mother as close to her pre-pregnant state - her figure, uterus, etc. It is cheap - free actually - Except that she has to eat properly.

These are known to many. What is probably not so popular is the proper way to breastfeed. I don't claim to be an expert on this subject but as a mother, I do know some tips. Here's how:

1. Wash your hands. Even before holding your breasts, see to it that you have washed your hands properly, being careful to reach the areas within the folds, your wrist to your elbows, the fingers washing them one at a time and the back of your hands. Do this each time you have to feed.

2. Wash your breasts. Use only distilled water for cleaning them. Pour some in baby's cup. Take a cotton ball, dip it in the water and start from the nipple outward in a circular manner. Do this three times changing the cotton ball each time. Never dip used cotton into the water. Wash your breasts before and after a feed. This is to ensure that your baby will not ingest any spoiled milk. A drop of bad milk can cause illness to your baby. I have had several reactions from my other blog about this. but think about this: Don't you cover leftover food? or do you eat from an unwashed plate? How much microbes can you get from a drop of spoiled milk? How many millions of them exist on your skin?

3. Sit upright. Although there are many positions that you may take, this one will be best for baby as there is lesser risk of him choking while feeding.

4. Hold your baby with either a cradle hold (where your arm supports the baby's head and body while you hold his buttocks with your hand) or a football hold (supporting baby's leg under your arm reachin out to the head to support it with your hand). I usually recommend the cradle hold being sure that his head is slightly higher than the rest of his body. You may put a pillow under your arm so you are comfortable.

5. Cup your breast with the other hand in a C position. Your thumb should be above the nipple and the other four under it.

6. Bring baby's cheek near the nipple. You'll be surprised at how he knows how to find it. If he doesn't look for it, he's either not hungry or, in the case of a newborn, does not know how the nipple feels yet. But don't you worry because he will be accustomed to it the next time around. Remember that baby's are instinctive and the basic is to know where to get food!

7. If this is your first time to breastfeed, you'll feel a slight discomfort. It'll go away, don't worry.

8. To free your breast from baby's mouth (in case you want to change to the other breast or when he has latched on to the nipple only), you may put the tip of your finger at the corner of baby's mouth.

9. Change to the other breast after a while, say 5 minutes. The next time you feed him, you should let him suck on the breast that baby last sucked on. Both breasts should be sucked on at each feed. This is so that there will be an equal production of milk.

10. Feeding intervals should be between 2 to 4 hours and when baby demands it.

11. Burp baby after each feed. You may also burp him midway and at the end of a feed. This will help rid baby of the air that he may have sucked which can cause him to throw up.

12. Let baby have a small amount of water right after so the milk is flushed. You may give him additional water later when he is not so full to prevent vomiting. My daughter used to regurgitate frequently before and I was told to feed her in small quantities, burp her often and delay giving water a bit.

13. Gently clean baby's mouth with a cotton and water wrapped in your pinky.

Remember that it is essential for you to have milk available for baby everytime he needs it. You'll need to have adequate rest and avoid being stressed as these will affect the way you produce your milk. You'll be amazed at how your breasts will feel full whenever baby is hungry. If you need to go to work or have to go somewhere, you may use a breast pump and put the milk in baby's bottle and keep it in the ref or in an ice chest. You have to warm it before giving it to baby.

Breastfeeding is a time to bond with baby. Enjoy it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pinoy Cooking

I recently heard a comment that most foreigners do not like Filipino cooking because it is too oily. Admittedly, we do have dishes that require alot of oil. Take for instance the Crispy Pata. This is pork leg boiled, hanged to dry then dipped in a panful of oil to become crisp. Or the Bicolano version of adobong manok sa gata which is chicken cooked in coconut milk with vinegar, ginger, shallots, and loads of red chili peppers. Or the Bulalo which is boiled beef shank cooked into soup with spices and some vegetables. Of course the crispy pata will be a little oily because it has been browned in it, the adobo because of its gata (coconut oil), and the bulalo because of its bone marrow.

However, it is possible not to make most filipino recipes not too oily. The Crispy Pata can be done cooked in very hot oil so that the oil is not absorbed by the meat. The Bulalo can be cooked without the bone marrow and only spare ribs are used with its fat totally stripped off. The Adobo and adobong manok sa gata can be cooked without the fat either. As in fact, there are Filipino dishes that do not require any oil at all. Here are some recipe of Filipino dishes that can be prepared by the health conscious for a family gathering:


Ensaladang Talong (eggplant salad in vinegar)
4-5 pcs. Eggplants, broiled and skinned
1 pc onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped
thumbsized ginger, slivered
1/4 cup vinegar

Combine all. season with salt and pepper.

Ensaladang Lato (Seaweed Salad)

1/2 kilo Lato or any seaweed (note that some seaweeds need to be blanched before using)
1 pc onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped
thumbsized ginger, slivered
1/4 cup vinegar

Combine all. season with salt and pepper.

Main Course

Inihaw na Bangus

1 pc Bangus (about 1 kilo, do not remove its scales!), its back sliced past the midbone
1 pc onion, chopped
1 pc tomato, chopped

combine the onion and tomato. Put the mixture inside the Bangus Belly reaching from the back of the fish. Carefully put the fish back to its original form and broil it over some charcoal. You may add some salt to it.

Nilagang Baboy

1 kilo Lean pork meat, cut up to about 1 cubic inch (1 inch on each side)
1 onion, sliced thinly
some peppercorns
salt to taste
Cabbage, cut into 4 (don't remove the core)
Baguio Beans
1 large potato, cubed about the same size as the pork

Boil the pork till tender with the onion and peppercorn. Season with salt. Add the potato and boil some more for about 3 minutes. Add in the beans and boil for about 1 minute. Add in the cabbage and wombok and simmer for 1 minute. Serve hot.

Adobong Manok sa Gata

1 kilo Chicken breast, cut up into serving pieces
1 large onion sliced
4 cloves of garlic, pound and skinned
about 2 inched ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 cups Coconut milk
1/4 cup vinegar

combine chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, and vinegar. cook covered over very low heat. do not uncover until about 15-20 minutes after. when chicken is cooked, add coconut milk. simmer for a few more minutes stirring occasionally.


Tropical Salad

1/4 cup Calamansi or Lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar or Sugar substitute
Tropical fruits of choice cut up into 1 inch cubes
low fat whipped cream (optional)

combine calamansi and sugar or substitute. Mix until sugar is dissolved. pour into the fruits. Serve topped with whipped cream

Enjoy your meal!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Caregivers are Angels in Disguise

To some, caregivers look like they have wings and have just descended down from heaven on a mission. Why? Let's face it. It's not easy to care for the sick or the old people no matter how much you love them. It takes a lot of patience and understanding and genuine concern to truly live up with them. As a student-nurse in the Philippines, I was witness to the kind of service that health professionals give to their clients. As idealistic as it may seem, I believe that Nurses are expected to give their best to their clients, applying the concept of "therapeutic use of self" in the way they speak, their non-verbal communication, through their prompt and efficient service, etc. It greatly upsets me and even irates me when patients are not given good quality service. But can you blame the nurses when they have 40 patients to attend to?

Caregivers, on the other hand, are also expected to be knowledgeable in the therapeutic use of self. It has been found that patients who receive genuine care from their providers of care get well faster, and have better chances of recuperating than those who don't. But who are the caregivers? These are people who do attend to the needs of sick or incapacitated persons whether temporarily or permanently. In a family, the primary caregivers are the mothers and the women. Do you recall a time when you were young and you had a very high fever? I recall those times vividly - how my mom used to give me sponge baths frequently, how she would wake up in the night to check on me, how she'd prepare food to bring up to my room just so I'd eat, how she'd practically watch the clock just so I won't miss my medications. I also recall how I'd get sick whenever my mom left for the province or to some place and how i'd get well no sooner than when she arrived. I get to smile when I think of it.

Nowadays, it is difficult for the mother or the other members of the family to be able to provide such kind of care to the sick or even to the convalescent. Most families require both parents to work in order to provide and meet their financial needs. Thus flourished the Caregiving business - they give the sick the attention and service that their family should be able to provide them but can't. These trained caregivers are then expected to serve their clients just like the mother would care for her own family. Just like my mom would.

I have been to the US twice and in those times I was able to witness how my mom gives attention to her clients. She runs Hesed Companions - a caregivers' agency in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California. Being trained as a mother, she pays attention to the smallest details that their customers require, even paying them a visit to check on how her caregivers are doing and whether their patients are satisfied or not. She is also knowledgeable in the Nursing practice as she had earned 3.5 years equivalent of nursing education from the University of the East, Manila, Philippines to which her professionalism probably springs from. She is also a born again Christian which explains why she and her caregivers empathize with their clients, are patient with them and show them love and understanding.

During my first trip, I was able to work for her for 1 full week. I had nothing else to do and was just waiting for my flight to the Philippines then. So I volunteered to do some job just to while away my time. Sure, enough my mom agreed to field me to one of her loyal customers. She, Olive, was not sick at all. She was just too old to be doing things by herself and staying home by herself. I saw how her children were so confident of the care that I would give Olive because they knew that my mom would have only the best for them. Ahem. But that's how she really is- my mom - she gives her best in anything and everything that she does.

Sadly, though, after 1 week I had to leave Olive when it was time for me to go back to the Philippines. But Olive and I became good friends and wrote each other. When she died her daughter even sent me an e-mail to thank me for making her mother happy even for just a short while.

I was also able to meet another of mom's clients - Grandpa Joe. He had been her client since 1992 when Joe's wife was still alive. Oh how Exine adored my mom that was evident in the very kind words that she has for her. Shortly before he transferred to Orange County in the 3rd quarter of 2007, mom still served Grandpa Joe and visited him every so often even when her caregivers were there to attend to him. I guess Grandpa Joe had been around for a while that he was already considered to be a member of our family. The last time I saw him was in 2000 when I brought my mother-in-law and daughter to meet him too.

My mom's most recent client is the mother of Grandpa Joe's physician (sorry, I forgot his name). I guess he likes my mom's service that he is now my mother's most formidable endorser. He actually gives out her flyers to his clients. If anyone would need caregiving service, babysitting, driving, Bathing, with light housekeeping, I'd recommend them of course.

Check out Hesed Companion's Website at Their telephone numbers in L.A. are 818-4009751 and 818-5158894.

Learn what skills and traits the perfect caregiver should have at

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kumon and my 12 year old daughter

Being a licensed elementary teacher has its benefits. For one, I got to appreciate the efforts that teachers put into preparing lessons and actually carrying out the teaching plan in each subject or class that they get into. One of my frustrations is to be able to teach math which happens to be my favorite subject. After I got my license, I taught in one of the International Schools in Pasig and have taken some masteral units in UP Diliman. I chose a Math subject for my elective. How I adored my professor, and the way she had made math very interesting. To me, math is a very interesting subject and can be viewed the same way by students who are properly trained.

Although she has been ranked first or second in her class, my daughter, perhaps as a result of my inability to teach math, has had difficulty in the subject for which I and her dad had excelled in during our elementary and high school years. She, had no problems with comprehending the lessons and had excellent problem solving schools but lacked speed and accuracy in performing her tasks. To compensate for this, I enrolled her in Kumon.

For some reason and under the influence of my math teacher-friends, I was not convinced that Kumon would do her good. I thought that home drills would be better and that I could actually teach her the discipline for which math requires - practice, practice and more practice. But I was proven wrong. Kumon, in fact, gave her what I could not. She was given daily tasks to accomplish and she had performed them diligently, always looked out for her mistakes and recorded the time that she was able to finish her assignments. Needless to say, she has become better at Math and had set her goals at reaching a level she wants to achieve before the year ends - that of level H which means she'll be able to perform linear equations. The nice thing about kumon is that they do not ask your child to perform difficult tasks right away. They let the child start at a level he or she is very comfortable with. But this does not mean that she is not able to do the higher math. In fact, she had a score of 85 to 90% in the assessment exam that they gave her. But kumon requires a near-100% score and she was not close to it.

Although at first I was scared that she would become impatient with the exercises that she had to do, my daughter has in fact done them every single day and has been promoted two levels up after 3 weeks of her enrollment. As we (my daughter and I) were discussing it one time, she said that she should have started her lessons as early as January of this year. This is what i think though - it is best to have her do kumon at the grade 5 level when she has fully grasped the concepts that Basic Math taught her. Kumon is great for having her perfect those concepts. At this age, she is able to appreciate what Kumon does for her and enjoy Math as one should. I wonder when she can do calculus?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Wonders of Coconut Oil

I have always been amazed at how the coconut oil has emerged from being a not-so-popular vegetable oil (as it has been aliased to hide its being derived from coconut) to a wonder oil at par with that of olive oil that can be used for the body both externally and internally. As a young girl I had used this oil for my hot oil treatments which my mom said could actually help in reducing the chance of falling hair. We had our maids extract the milk from mature coconuts by cold press but had them cook it till the oil and the curd separated. Heat, I recently found out from reading, attending seminars and internet research, destroys the coconut's medicinal properties and is no longer beneficial as it is claimed to be reducing it to an oil that can only be used for cooking.

Virgin coconut oil has recently been found to be good for arthritis, heart ailments, skin diseases, cancer, AIDS, dandruff. It can make your skin become smooth and supple and can be used as treatment for dry hair. (There are more claims but there wouldn't be enough space in this blog and I won't have the time to list them down.)Personally, I have experienced that my skin which has been forever dry has drastically improved after only 4 applications. So did my hair - it used to be dry, lifeless and kinky. Now it is softer and manageable with the right amount of shine that does not make the strands look like they had been glued together. I even used it when I was going down with a cold and the cold just went away after a few hours. It has so far helped me with my arthritis and gout as well. My whole family now uses it for different purposes but mostly for the skin and hair.

After some experiment, I found out that virgin coconut oil can actually be extracted by just mere squeezing the milk out of freshly grated coconuts and leaving it to curdle for about 48 hours. The curd is scooped out and the oil which is found underneath the curd is very gently and slowly scooped out using a plastic spoon just until I can scoop it without the liquid below it being mixed with the oil. My second try was not as good as the first. I had not been able to get as much oil as the first trial because I had refrigerated the grated coconut first before I extracted the milk. but this time I noticed that its smell was not as strong as the first one I had made. It has been said that the real virgin coconut oil is colorless, tasteless and odorless. So far I have passed two of the 3 tests although the odor is really not that strong and is actually tolerable.

But of course for people who don't have the time nor the patience to do the extracting, there is always the virgin coconut oil (VCO) sold in the market. One that we have bought lately is that of Theraherb which is being endorsed by Dr. Gary Sy. This particular VCO is langka (jackfruit) flavored. It costs around 150 pesos for a bottle of 250 ml. Not bad. After all it had cost me about 45 pesos for 350 ml oil that I had extracted. If I had to sell it, the 105 difference is actually the cost of the bottle and payment for my labor (although of course I wouldn't have to pay my self for it). But since I didn't sell it, this is actually my savings.

Being a student nurse, we are scheduled to go on our immersion in one of the provinces in Luzon next week. One of the activities is to actually be able to encourage people to be able to boost their family's income. Since there are many coconut trees in the area, I'm thinking of teaching the community about this experiment. It could be worth the shot.

Working from Home - Me and my PC

Now that I am back to school and my tenant just left the condo unit, I had been looking for a way to earn some money. At first, I thought of doing medical Transcription. However, I thought, this would be a full time job for me and I didn't want that because it will take so much of my time which is now divided into being a mother, a wife, and a student. I want something that I can do during my free time and which will at the same time be rewarding for me.

Just as my tenant had left the unit, and I was really blowing my top because she did not inform me of the move right away, my husband suggested that I instead look for sights where bloggers are paid to write their - ummmm- blogs, what else. So, today, practically the whole day, was spent on looking for a site. There aren't too many for a Filipino blogger like myself. I came across a few which looked promising but since I am not comfortable about giving out my personal details in the web to a site which I am not familiar with, I did more searching and came across this site.

I like this site. For starters, it is one recommended by Google. So, that covers my problem of not being familiar with the site. Next, although I do know how to do webpages, I don't have the time to do the designing. Blogspot has templates which I can use to do away with HTML. Thirdly, I needed the money. As I have yet to find out if what they claim is true, I am quite sure that this site will give me some dough for my writing. Not that I'm good at it but I do like writing and lately I have been propped up on my bed trying to answer some forum questions or making an entry on another blog site. So, why not earn from it? After all, I won't be dishonest with my opinions and neither will I be influenced by anything nor anyone. I'll write about my earnings when they come.